Supt Mike Walker's policing column: Tackling street drinking

Police are making great efforts to tackle street drinking in HarrogatePolice are making great efforts to tackle street drinking in Harrogate
Police are making great efforts to tackle street drinking in Harrogate
Superintendent Mike Walker is based at Harrogate Police Station and is North Yorkshire Police's County Commander overseeing the Harrogate, Craven, Hambleton and Richmondshire districts.

This week Supt Walker explains how police are working with other agencies to tackle street drinking and anti-social behaviour in Harrogate.

Harrogate is great – it’s in the safest policing area in England and in 2015 it was voted the country’s happiest place to live.

But that doesn’t mean that everything is perfect.

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We know that anti-social behaviour can have a major impact on people’s quality of life, and we are committed to tackling it.

One issue that is regularly brought to our attention is daytime street drinking and the anti-social behaviour that comes with it.

A street drinker is someone who regularly drinks alcohol, or is drunk or intoxicated and in a public place, and their behaviour raises the risk of offending behaviour; harm to themselves or others; anti-social behaviour; drawing other vulnerable people into such lifestyles; or homelessness.

The recent bad weather means that – to a certain extent – the issue has declined, but we have been working very hard to address it if it re-emerges.

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We know that residents want to feel safe on their street, and comfortable to let their children out to play.

Similarly, businesses want their customers to be free from groups of intimidating drunk people.

That’s why together with our colleagues at Harrogate Borough Council, the NHS and North Yorkshire County Council – to name a few – we have put a great deal of effort into identifying the scope of the problem and the individuals behind it, along with their specific needs and the most appropriate organisation to assist them.

Engagement with individuals causing anti-social behaviour or crime is an important part of the process.

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This could be to enforce legislation or to simply have a conversation about their behaviour and explain the problem they are causing.

We have also been increasingly using our ‘dispersal’ powers to deal with individuals or groups who cause anti-social behaviour within a specific area.

And you may also read in the Advertiser recently about our work with the Home Office to deport two Polish men who had been living in Harrogate.

The men were well-known in the town and were heavily involved in crime and anti-social street drinking.

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Without a doubt, their presence had a corrosive effect in the town centre and their removal from the country has led to an instant improvement in the overall situation.

After refusing to leave voluntarily they were detained and, following a process of detention allowing for them to appeal, the men were deported to Poland.

I am confident that when the weather improves we will be in a strong position to tackle any re-emergence of street drinking and anti-social behaviour.

Multi-agency meetings will continue to address the problem and we will continue to offer support to those who need it.

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In cases where anti-social behaviour by individuals continues, we will continue to adopt a staged approach with them, and use legislation to control their behaviour and prosecute them where appropriate.

We are also setting up Acceptable Behaviour Contracts with some of the people involved and we have already started the process of applying for a Criminal Behaviour Order for one of the worst offenders.

Finally, I like to thank everyone who has taken the time to help us in tackling this problem – especially those businesses who have responded to our surveys and kindly agreed to assist in the problem-solving by offering their services.

Businesses and residents are very welcome to continue to contact us with their views by emailing [email protected].

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I would also like to emphasise that we still need your help.

Please continue to report any issues to us on the 101 non-emergency number, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

I know that it can take time and effort to call us, but with your information and support, we can make Harrogate an even better place to live and work.